Law and Justice
Highlights of the Bill
- The Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (Conditions of Service) Bill, 2014 seeks to establish uniform conditions of service for the chairpersons and members of 26 tribunals and authorities.
- These conditions of service include term of office, reappointment, age of retirement, allowances, and leave entitlement for chairpersons and members of the tribunals covered by the Bill.
- The Bill sets the age of retirement for chairpersons and members who are: (i) former Supreme Court judges at 70 years; (ii) former Chief Justices or judges of the High Court at 67 years; and (iii) any other person at 65 years.
- The Bill prohibits members from appearing before the tribunal that they were serving on, once their term of service with that tribunal ends. Other tribunals may be included within the ambit of the Bill if they have a Supreme Court or High Court judge as chairperson or member.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Bill permits reappointment of members for another term. This could affect the tribunal’s independence in cases where the government is a litigant before it, and also has the power to reappoint its members.
- The Minister will sanction the chairperson’s leave and foreign travel of chairperson and members. The government’s involvement in such administrative matters may affect the independence of the members.
- The Bill specifies different ages of retirement for members of tribunals based on previous posts held by them. The rationale behind such differentiation between members qualified to serve on the same tribunal is unclear. This may also violate Article 14 of the Constitution.
- In order to include other tribunals within the Bill, their chairpersons or members should be judges of the higher courts. However, some of the tribunals currently covered by the Bill do not meet this condition.
- The Bill does not address issues of: a) bar on post tenure employment with enterprises that have appeared before the tribunal; b) grounds for removal of members; and c) conditions of services of a Vice Chairman.